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Thumping noise in front wheel

j4bs4209333

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January 23, 2010
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Wondering if anyone ever had the same problem as me. 2002 Explorer 4.6L 4x4. When I am driving I hear a loud thumping noise from what sounds like the front driver's wheel. The noise starts at about 20mph and is louder the faster I go. I can also hear a roaring noise, which sounds like a typical bad hub noise, but would a bad hub thump? It also feels like it's binding up, especially when taking a left, but the caliper isn't frozen. The noise is pretty consistent when going straight, it lessens a little bit when going right, and gets worse when taking a left or hugging a left curve. Last night I had to make a u-turn and when I cut the wheel all the way left and went the tire locked up, I would have sworn the tire fell off, but when I backed off the wheel a little bit it was fine again. I've replaced the 2 rear hubs and checked the front hubs and they have no play in them at all. Checked the front suspension, and nothing wrong there either. I recently had the driver's rear hub completely lock up on me so I thought about that, but when the front end is off the ground the tire spins freely by hand and there's no scraping noise coming from the hub. I think I can eliminate front differential issues because if I jack up one front tire it spins freely without the other side having to be off the ground, so I think that means that the differential only engages in 4wd. Please correct me if I'm wrong on that. My first guess was the hub, but I've never heard of a hub thumping or binding up when turning a certain way. I'm now thinking it might be the cv axle but I don't want to play "guess the part". Can anyone give me a suggestion? I don't have the money to bring it somewhere so I'm hoping someone else might have had a similar issue and can help me out. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
 
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mmartin8888

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December 17, 2010
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City, State
Asheville North Carolina
Year, Model & Trim Level
02 XLT
same issue

I just dropped it off today, will let you know what they say. It feels like it is binding and a metal sound. It is coming from front left wheel
 
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Ruffway25

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January 22, 2011
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City, State
Howell NJ
Year, Model & Trim Level
02 sport
Front wheel bearings. Autozone. $120 a piece. Might as well do both. About a two hour job if your mechanicaly competent.
 
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EasyRhino

Explorer Addict
Joined
March 25, 2001
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City, State
Kailua, Hawai'i
Year, Model & Trim Level
'02 Limited 4.6L 4x4
Front wheel bearings. Autozone. $120 a piece. Might as well do both. About a two hour job if your mechanicaly competent.

I agree with this. A common problem and somewhat easily fixed. Just buy good bearings (there is a lot of junk out there) and be patient with the three bolts behind the knuckle that holds the bearing in place. Oh, and be careful with the ABS wiring - it doesn't like being abused.

I also agree with the recommendation to do both at once, as there is a likelihood that both will fail eventually. Ask yourself, how far behind can the 'good' bearing be?

The only thing I might disagree with is the two hour estimate. Some have had problems getting the bolts in/out and getting the axle nut off, or getting the axle half-shaft splines to disengage the hubs. So hope for two hours (can be done), but allot more time just in case.
 
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